This morning I preached on the story of Naaman. I talked about the nature of leprosy, and how it has been discovered (by the missionary doctor, Paul Brand) that the disease destroys people's bodies, not by eating away at them, but by anaesthetising the nervous system so the person, no longer feeling pain, causes the injury themselves.
"The resulting nerve damage causes loss of sensation in the extremities, eyes, and eyelids. Because of lack of sensation the leper can be unaware of injuries to his fingers, toes, hands, or feet, resulting in the infection and loss of those members. Because of the loss of sensation in the eyes and eyelids the person does not blink and his eyes dry out, or gets dust in his eyes without knowing it causing infection, both resulting in loss of sight".
I spoke of Naaman, and how, in his pride, he didn't want to follow the one way God had ordained for his cleansing, and how we are just the same, because God has ordained a way for us to be cleansed of sin, and we deal with it in other ways -- denial, lying, making excuses, compartmentalising our lives (like Jekyll and Hyde) reinterpreting scripture to justify ourselves, blaming others etc etc.
And how are sin and leprosy alike? this was the list I came up with:
makes us unclean
no one is immune
numbs us to the promptings of the Holy Spirit
will eventually numb us so much we become self-destructive, The Bible speaks of being "hardened by sin's deceitfulness" (Hebrews 3:13, NIV) and of being given over to a depraved mind (Romans 1:28). And we don't even realize that it is destroying us.
more contagious to the young and the ill-nourished
causes isolation and destroys relationships
in Bible times leprosy was incurable by any human means
started out in one small area, ended up affecting the whole person
in Jewish law even the smallest thing wrong on the skin had to be examined to see if it was the symptom of disease deep inside the person
it produced misery, shame and disfigurement in the person’s life, taking away the joy from every earthly privilege they might have known
I finished with this quote I found from the testimony of a Chinese Christian:
"A Christian from China was giving his testimony and he said, "I had slipped into a great ditch and the ditch was sin." Buddha came along and said, "Come up half way and I will lift you up." Muhammad came along and said, "Here are five pillars that will get you out." But I couldn't get up those five pillars. Confucius came along and said, "You're not really in that ditch, you just think you're in that hole." But I was still there in the ditch of sin. Then Jesus came by and saw my predicament. He didn't say a word but laid aside his regal robes and got down in the ditch along with the sin and the mire and he lifted me out of it by his grace. The difference was his love and who he was! He who was God was willing to come down to my level in order to lift me out of sin."